“If I were gay, I’d be way more fabulous,” athlete Ally Hudson Taylor said to an eruption of applause followed by cheers during Wednesday night’s presentation of Hudson Taylor’s presentation of “Be Aware of Homophobia, Transphobia, and Heterosexism in Athletics” which is part of the overall awareness theme of March’s Diverse Identities night.
The presentation’s main goal was to bring awareness to the homophobia and transphobia that still continues to exist in athletics, particularly “masculine” sports. Taylor is a former NCAA Division I All-American wrestler, who is currently the wrestling coach for Columbia University.
He gained national attention by wearing an LGBT sticker from the Human Rights Campaign on his wrestling headgear. Despite not being LGBT himself, he befriended many during his college years and realized that he was no longer going to stand by silently as his teammates used homophobic language in the locker room.
“If there is something I can do to improve someone’s life, I am going to do it,” Taylor said. When discussing the topic of LGBT youths who have been bullied to the point of suicide, he challenged the audience members to think about how much of their time they would be willing to give to save a life through volunteer or advocacy work.
“If you could save a life through half an hour of your time, I’m sure you would all still do it, but what if that turned into a day or a month or a year?” Taylor said. “That is a question that I am still asking myself.”
“I can already see a lot of the student momentum that was inspired by Hudson,” senior Jordan Vega said. Vega, who runs cross country and track and starred in Athlete Ally’s “Fierce” campaign last fall, plans on becoming an ambassador upon graduating this spring.
“We (Athlete Ally) partnered with GLAAD this past summer to hold ally training in NCAA training camps,” Taylor said of some of his current partnerships with other LGBT organizations.
Part of Athlete Ally’s mission is not only to raise awareness for the issue of homophobia and transphobia in sports through ally training, but to also create “allies” who can be of any gender or sexual identity and will speak out against such discrimination in sports. Both Hudson and Vega believe that sensitivity training is key to raising awareness.
“My senior thesis, ‘Cultural competence training for the inclusion of LGBT individuals into athletics,’ was based off a lot of the curriculum that Hudson helped establish in his NCAA training,” Vega said. “My main goal is to have the entire athletic department and coaches go through a training like this so that other athletes and teammates won’t have to hide in order to please a heterosexist majority.”
After wearing the LGBT sticker from the Human Rights Campaign, Taylor came back to over 2,000 emails from students all over the country.
“Some were unpleasant, but the vast majority of them were people who were grateful,” Taylor said. “Many of them were closeted athletes who felt they could not come out because they feared the discrimination they would face from their teammates, but they were happy to know that there were people on their side.”
Overall, Vega felt the presentation was effective in educating those who attended.
“I am excited to see how the athletic department at Whittier will become more diverse and culturally inclusive to LGBT individuals,” Vega said. “My only wish is that I wish there would have been more support and involvement from the Whittier College Athletic department, because they did not respond to any emails, questions or in-person conversation about topics relating to LGBT individuals and this needs to change, but I want to thank the kinesiology and psychology departments, ASWC and the Cultural Center for help sponsoring this event. Also, thank you to all the societies that showed up.”